Skin Deep

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Art Dudley (Stereophile) writes: In the old days, when audio-show reports routinely appeared in the print edition of Stereophile, life was easier. I spent my show days visiting exhibitors and listening to new gear, but I decorated those days with record shopping, dining out, and staying up late to visit with friends in the industry. And because hard-copy deadlines always seemed to be at least a few days away, I would wait until I'd returned home before doing any actual writing. The new way is better—expecting excitement from a show report in a print magazine is like expecting carbonation from an open beer you've found behind the couch the day after a party—but it's considerably more work.

Most of the writing and photo editing must be done before leaving for home, which means that all pertinent facts must be gathered on-site. No more follow-up e-mails. No more frantic calls. No more screwing around. I'm getting good at it. My handwritten notes from the Chester Group's New York Audio and AV Show, which took place in April at the Waldorf=Astoria, contain up to a dozen dollar signs per page: clearly, a sign of efficiency. But my New York experience touched a new nerve. It seemed that all I heard at the show, every hour, in the majority of rooms, was "$20,000." How much is that amp? "$20,000." How much is that preamp? "$20,000." How much is that cable? "$20,000."

I have a vague recollection of going to one room, inquiring about a rack full of upmarket gear, and hearing a shopkeeper repeat, over and again, as he pointed to each product in turn, "$20,000, $20,000, $20,000 ........

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